If you are involved in an auto accident in Massachusetts where personal injury occurs, you have a duty to stop and provide your name, address, and registration information. If there is no one to provide information to at the scene of the accident, you must report the incident to the police as soon as possible.
Frequently, drivers leave the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury because of existing issues with their driver's license, auto insurance, or immigration status. Drivers also sometimes leave the scene of such accidents because of outstanding warrant(s), drug/alcohol impairment, or some other reason. However, drivers are sometimes unaware that they were even involved in an accident.
In Massachusetts, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury is a serious offense, and a conviction can result in incarceration, a fine, probation, suspension of your driver's license, an increase in your car insurance premium, as well as a civil lawsuit.
If you have left scene of an auto accident involving personal injury, it is vital that you speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who has handled these types of cases. Attorney David Ellison knows how to protect your rights in such matters. Contact David at 401-230-5520 to learn your rights and best possible legal strategies.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY NOT RESULTING IN DEATH IN MASSACHUSETTS?
M.G.L. c. 90, §§ 24 (a1/2)(1) provides that any person who, without stopping and making known his name, residence, and the register number of his motor vehicle leaves the scene of an accident after knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury to any person not resulting in the death of any person shall be found in violation of this section.
Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts causing injury to any person not resulting in death is a misdemeanor offense, and a conviction is punishable by the following:
- Mandatory minimum imprisonment from 6 months to 2 years; and
- A fine ranging from $500-$1,000.
- license suspension
- possible criminal conviction
- potentil probation
A conviction will result in the automatic suspension of your driving privileges by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Driving privileges may be restored or a new license may be issued after 1 year following a conviction for a first offense, or after 2 years for a subsequent conviction at the RMV's discretion.
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY IN MASSACHUSETTS?
To find you guilty of Leaving the Scene of Accident Involving Personal Injury Not Resulting in Death, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you operated a motor vehicle;
- That you operated it on a way or in a place where the public has a right of access, or upon a way or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees;
- That you knowingly collided with or otherwise injured another person; and
- That after such collision or injury, you did not stop and make known your name, home address, and the registration number of your motor vehicle.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO OPERATE A MOTOR VEHICLE IN MASSACHUSETTS?
You “operate” your motor vehicle while doing all well-known things that drivers do as they travel on a street or highway. Operating a motor also involves any act which directly sets the vehicle in motion. Massachusetts law provides that a person “operates” a motor vehicle whenever he or she is in the vehicle and intentionally manipulates some mechanical or electrical part of the vehicle (i.e., the gear shift or the ignition) which, alone or in sequence, sets the vehicle in motion.
WHAT IS A PUBLIC WAY, OR A WAY OR PLACE WHERE MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC HAVE ACCESS IN MASSACHUSETTS?
Generally, people operating a motor vehicle are on a public way, but in some circumstances they may not be. Any street or highway that is open to the public and is controlled and maintained by some level of government is a “public way.” Interstate and state highways along with municipal streets and roads are considered a “public way.” Massachusetts General Laws c. 90, § 1 defines a public way as the following: “any public highway, [or a] private way [that is] laid out under authority of [a] statute, [or a] way dedicated to public use, or [a] way [that is] under [the] control of park commissioners or [a] body having [similar] powers.” A way is public if a reasonable person would conclude it is open for public travel. Commonwealth v. Hart. Indicia that suggest a way is public include paving, traffic signals, streetlights, and abutting houses or business. Commonwealth v. George. A way is not public if access is barred by gate or barrier and/or posted with signage expressly prohibiting entry. Commonwealth v. Stoddard.
INJURY TO ANOTHER PERSON
The extent of the injury is not relevant except to the extent that it may be circumstantial evidence of whether you knew that there was a collision.
PROVIDING YOUR NAME, HOME ADDRESS, AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION
A driver has a duty to immediately stop at the scene and offer the specific information required: name, home address and motor vehicle registration number. The purpose of this statute is to enable anyone who has been injured by a motor vehicle to obtain immediate and accurate information about the person in charge of that motor vehicle. It imposes a duty on the driver to immediately stop at the scene and offer the specific information required to identify the driver, and to make it simple to find the driver later. The statute is not satisfied by stopping at some remote place or by being passively willing to answer inquiries.
If you are charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Personal Injury, do not hesitate to contact, David Ellison, a Massachusetts Leaving the Scene lawyer, today.